Saint of The Week
|Weekly Mass Recording||Daily and Weekly Readings|
September 11, 2022 - 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Saint John Chrysostom | September 13
Born in Antioch in the 4th century, and raised by his widowed mother, Saint John received a rigorous classical education. He was first called to the ascetic life, even spending time as an anchorite living in a cave near Antioch. However, this life of extreme mortification was hard on his physical body, and he eventually returned to the city to recover.
Saint John was ordained in 298. He spent the next 12 years preaching in the Cathedral of Antioch, and it was most likely during this time that he earned the name Chrysostom which means “golden-mouthed.”
In 397 or 398 he was made archbishop of Constantinople against his will. This post placed Saint John in the midst of imperial politics. But he would not be drawn in. He kept a modest household without extravagance and refused to serve the sumptuous suppers for political supplicants that predecessors in the position had. He preached against corruption and decadence and fought for the reform of clergy even deposing corrupt bishops.
Unfortunately, this high moral stance made enemies of powerful people at court and in the Church. They conspired against him and eventually Saint John was exiled to Armenia. He died in exile in 407. He was made a Father of the Church at the Council of Chalcedon in 451 and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1568.
September 4, 2022 - 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Peter Claver | September 9
Born in Catalonia Spain in 1580, Saint Peter Claver studied at first at the University of Barcelona and then joined the Jesuits. He became friends with fellow brother Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez who encouraged him to be a missionary in the New World. Accordingly, Saint Peter went to Cartagena, a city in present-day Columbia where he was ordained in in 1615.
Cartagena was a center for the slave trade, and the young missionary knew where he could best serve God. He proclaimed himself, “the slave of the Negroes forever.” As ships would arrive with their human cargo, Saint Peter and a group of interpreters would rush into the hold with food and medicines. When the slaves were moved to pens to await sale, the saint continued to work among them, communicating God’s love with acts of generosity and teaching the Catholic faith.
He also led missions in the interior, refusing the hospitality of plantation owners and preferring to stay in the slave quarters. He organized charitable societies and is said to have baptized and catechized more than 300,000 enslaved persons.
Celebrating St. Peter Claver: “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus’ answer to this question was the parable of the Good Samaritan. In short, the person you least expect. Peter Claver was born in 16th century Spain. Peter became a Jesuit and was deeply influenced by the missionary call. At age 30, he set out for modern-day Colombia. At the time, Cartagena was one of the largest slave markets in the New World. As a priest, Peter knew his role was spiritual service. He quickly dedicated his ministry to these “neighbors” whom the world rejected. When a slave ship entered the harbor, Peter would rush on board with food, water, and a human touch. He introduced some slaves to Christ in a more formal way. As these new converts were moved to plantations, he would visit them, stay in their quarters, and advocate with the masters to act humanely. St. Peter Claver called himself “the slave of the slaves forever.” May we, too, have a powerful sense of our neighbor.
Saint Peter Claver died on September 8, 1654. He was canonized with his friend Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez in 1888, by Pope Leo XIII. He is the worldwide patron saint of African Americans and of enslaved peoples
August 28, 2022 - 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Gregory the Great | September 3
Saint Gregory the Great lived in a most turbulent time. There were devastating episodes of plague, the sacking of Rome and the breakdown of strong Roman rule, invasions by Lombards and Franks, floods, and a widening gap between imperial Byzantium and the Roman Church.
Born around 540 into a noble Roman family, Saint Gregory was probably trained in law, and started his public service as a Prefect of Rome. However, upon the death of his father, he converted his family home to monastery, where he resided as a monk. He built six more monasteries in Sicily and one in Rome.
Often called the father of the medieval papacy and Apostle of the English, Saint Gregory was proclaimed Pope by acclamation in 590. Although he was reluctant to assume this post, preferring the cloistered life, his accomplishments were many. He was an extremely capable manager of Church estates and tenants and is known for his reform of the liturgy. He was instrumental in the consolidation of papal power and led the fight against the many heresies promoted by small Christian groups at the time. Through his prolific correspondence he oversaw monastic life, curtailing the power of grasping bishops, correcting abuses, and enforcing discipline. He was particularly concerned with the conversion of England, sending 40 monks from his monastery including Saint Augustine of Canterbury to evangelize there.
Saint Gregory died in 604 and was sainted immediately. He is one of four key doctors of the Western Church, including Saints Augustine, Ambrose, and Jerome.
August 21, 2022 - 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Rose of Lima | August 23
Born Isabel Flores de Olivia in April 1586 in Lima, Peru to Spanish colonists, Saint Rose of Lima took the name Rose at her confirmation in 1597. Legend holds that she received this nickname as an infant because a servant saw her face transformed into a rose.
Even as a child Saint Rose was dedicated to Christ. Growing up she made many secret penances. And when she was old enough to be married, deterred suitors by cutting off her hair and rubbing pepper on face to make it blister. She took a vow of chastity even though her parents wished her to marry. She fasted many times a week and permanently abstained from meat.
Eventually her parents gave in and allowed her to join the Third Order of St. Dominic, although she was not permitted to live in a convent. Saint Rose undertook severe penances, allowing herself only two hours of sleep a night in order to have more time to pray, wearing a heavy silver crown with spikes on the inside imitating Christ’s crown of thorns, and even burning her own hands. However, she also cared for the sick and hungry, and sold her beautiful embroidery and fine lace, as well as flowers she grew to help raise funds for the poor.
She died at the age of 31 on August 24, 1617. Pope Clement X canonized her in 1671, she was the first saint of the New World, born in the Americas. Saint Rose of Lima is the patron saint of Latin America and the Philippines.
August 14, 2022 - 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Stephen of Hungary, August 16
Born a pagan in the 10th century Saint Stephen was baptized as a boy when his father converted to Christianity. Saint Stephen married Gisela, daughter of Duke Henry II of Bavaria who would become Saint Henry II. He succeeded his father as leader and began to transform the nation into a Christian kingdom.
Pope Sylvester II proclaimed him the first king of Hungary in 1001, sending him a crown and gold processional cross. The crown, made in the Byzantine style, has become a symbol of Hungarian nationhood.
King Stephen’s reign was a relatively peaceful and prosperous time. He outlawed paganism, mandated church building, and tithing for support of the parish, and commanded all to marry except clergy and religious. He founded a Benedictine monastery, and Hungary became an important place along the route to the Holy Land for many pilgrims.
Unfortunately, Stephen’s son and heir died in a hunting accident, causing much conflict over the succession when the saint died. Eventually the kingdom was won back for Christendom and father and son were canonized in 1083 by Pope St. Gregory VII. Saint Stephen I is now patron saint of Hungary.
August 7, 2022 - 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Jane Frances de Chantal | August 12
Saint Jane Frances de Chantal was born to a noble family in Dijon, France, on January 28, 1572. Her mother died when she was an infant. Her father raised her and provided for her education. In 1592 She married the Baron de Chantal, the couple were devoted to each other. They had six children, three of whom died in infancy. As Baroness, Saint Jane Frances restored the custom of daily Mass, and was famous for her charitable works. Unfortunately, her husband died in a hunting accident only eight years after their marriage. Devastated Jane Frances was forced to live in her father-in-law’s strict household where she took a vow of chastity.
In 1604 while visiting her father in Dijon, she met Saint Francis de Sales and he became her close friend and spiritual director. Although not many of their epistles have survived, the pair had a lively correspondence which lasted until Saint Francis died.
Under the direction of St. Francis de Sales and with his partnership she established the Congregation of the Visitation at Annecy in 1610. This was a unique order, without the extreme ascetical practices typical in other religious orders, accepting women and girls and those rejected by other orders because of poor health or age. The new order was also unusual in its public ministry, rather than a strictly cloistered life. Saint Jane transformed her convent at Annecy into a hospital during the plague of 1628.
The saint died at the Visitation Convent in Moulins on December 13, 1641. At the time of her death, there were 86 convents of Visitation nuns. She was canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII.
July 31, 2022 - 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Alphonsus Liguori | August 1
Saint Alphonsus was born into a well-respected family in 1696, in Marianella, in the Kingdom of Naples. He received an exceptional education through private tutors and was conferred degrees in civil and canon law at 16. He practiced law for 8 years before he turned to the Church. He was ordained a priest in 1726.
Saint Alphonsus traveled for 26 years in Kingdom of Naples preaching. His style of ministry was called “mission among the people,” he and a group of priests or lay brothers would go to rural areas, staying for a time to teach, preach, and pray with the people there.
Saint Alphonsus was a brilliant preacher, he was able to connect with ordinary people and his teaching and sermons were marked by his compassion. In a time of restrictive Church rule, where fear of God was truly fear, Saint Alphonsus taught about God’s redeeming love. He also had a special devotion to Mary, praying to her for intercession and including devotions to her in his teaching. He wrote extensively, more than 100 books which have been through thousands of editions. His books are still available today and have been translated into more than 60 languages.
In 1762 Saint Alphonsus was made a bishop by Pope Clement XIII, however, he was eventually allowed to resign his post because of his ill health. He was paralyzed for a time from rheumatic fever in 1775, and had rheumatism so severe it was deforming, bending his head so far forward that his chin rested on his chest.
He died peacefully at the age of 90 in 1787. He was canonized in 1839 by Pope Gregory XVI, and in 1871 he was named a doctor of the church by Pope Pius IX. In 1950 he was declared patron of moral theologians by Pope Pius XII
July 24, 2022 - 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. James the Apostle | July 25
Saint James the Apostle is also called James, son of Zebedee, or James the Greater to distinguish him from the other James in Jesus’ group of twelve. Most of what we know about Saint James is recorded in the New Testament. He and his brother John were collected by Jesus along the sea of Galilee. Matthew 4:18-22 tells the story of Jesus calling first Simon Peter and his brother Andrew and then the sons of Zebedee. In Mark 3:17 the brothers receive a nickname from Jesus who calls them “sons of thunder” because of their many extreme reactions, like that in Luke 9:54 when they offer to call down fire on a Samaritan village.
Saint James was part of Jesus’ intimate circle, a witness to the Transfiguration, the resurrection of Jarius’ daughter, and the agony in the garden of Gethsemane. In A.D. 44 Herod Agrippa had “James, the brother of John, killed by the sword.” (Acts 12:2) He is the only apostle whose martyrdom is written of in the New Testament.
According to Spanish tradition, his body was taken to Santiago de Compostela, Spain where his relics were rediscovered in 9th century. This tradition has sometimes been attributed to a passage in the Song of Roland which tells of St. James appearing to Charlemagne in a dream, prophesying that Charlemagne would conquer the Moors in Spain. This was followed by a vision of stars which if followed would lead to the saint’s lost tomb. In the Middle Ages Compostela was a hugely popular pilgrimage site. The saint’s relics continue to rest in the cathedral there and one can still undertake the pilgrimage.
July 17, 2022 - 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Bridget of Sweden | July 23
Saint Bridget or Birgitta was born in 1303, the daughter of Birger Petersson, governor of Uppland and his wife Ingeborg Bengtsdotter. She was married to Ulf Gudmarsson, who became governor of the province of Nericia. They had eight children, all of whom survived past infancy which was rare for the 12th century. One of their daughters would become St. Catherine of Sweden.
Saint Bridget was hailed as a mystic and her visions, which began in her early childhood when she had visions of Christ Crucified, made her somewhat of a Middle Ages celebrity. Her vision of the Nativity of Jesus even influenced the art of the Nativity through the Baroque era! She is said to have predicted the Vatican State. Saint Bridget’s Revelations, which she dictated to Peter Olafsson, the prior at the Cistercian monastery of Alvastra near which she retired after her husband’s death in 1344, were published in 1492. They have since been published in many languages and can still be purchased today.
Some of her most profound visions regarded the founding of a new religious order which would be primarily for women, ruled by an abbess, but with a separate house for monks who would serve as order chaplains. Her visions detailed everything from the abbey church to the clothing that would be adopted as the nun’s habit, and how the order would be ruled. King Magnus II of Sweden granted Bridget land and buildings. The order, called the Bridgettines or the Order of the Most Holy Savior was approved by Pope Urban V in 1370.
Saint Bridget was canonized in 1391 by Pope Boniface IX and in 1999 Pope John Paul II named her one of the Patron Saints of Europe.
July 10, 2022 - 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Henry | July 13
Saint Henry was born in 972 to Henry, Duke of Bavaria, Germany, and his wife Gisela of Burgundy. Saint Henry’s early life was permeated with Christianity, among those who guided his education was Bishop Wolfgang of Ratisbon, who became a saint himself. In 995, Saint Henry succeeded his father as Duke of Bavaria, and in 1002, upon the death of his cousin, Otho III, he was elected emperor. In 1014, Saint Henry undertook the long journey from Germany to Rome to be crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Benedict XIII.
In 1022 Saint Henry assisted Pope Benedict VIII in holding the Council of Pavia, which promoted clerical celibacy and sought to end simony (the buying and selling of ecclesiastical goods and offices). During his reign, Saint Henry used his wealth and position for the Church. He confirmed Benedict’s authority over Rome, was a patron of churches and monasteries, supported the Cluniac Reforms, restored episcopal sees, and founded the Diocese of Bamburg where he built a cathedral.
Saint Henry was married to Cunigunde of Luxembourg, to whom he was incredibly devoted. Although disputed by some historians, some stories of the couple’s marriage report they took vows of chastity because their union was childless.
Saint Henry died in July of 1024 and was canonized in 1146 by Pope Eugene III.
July 3, 2022 - 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
St. Elizabeth of Portugal | July 5
St. Elizabeth was born to Peter III of Aragon and his queen Constantia in 1271. Like most royal girls of the time, she was betrothed at an early age, and was married to King Diniz (or Dinis, English: Denis) at the age of 12. Although her husband’s infidelities and life of sin caused much scandal, Elizabeth was a good and pius queen. She attended Mass daily and dedicated her life to helping the poor. She established orphanages and shelters for the homeless. She also founded a convent of Poor Clares at Coimbra, Portugal.
Often called Peacemaker, Elizabeth was from her birth a reconciler of conflict. Her birth brought her father and his estranged father James to peace. Later when her own son and husband came to war out of jealousy, she rode between armies and reconciled the two men.
After King Diniz died in 1325, she went to live as a lay member at the convent of Poor Clares that she had founded. But her fight for peace was not over, she undertook a long ride to keep the army of her son Afonso IV, from fighting that of Alfonso XI of Castile. Although she was successful, she died shortly after from a fever.
Saint Elizabeth was canonized on May 25th, 1625, by Pope Urban VIII. In the United States her memorial has been transferred to July 5th since July 4th is Independence Day, a national holiday
June 19, 2022 - The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ
St. Thomas More | June 22
Sir Thomas More was a humanist and statesman in Tudor England. He is still widely known today as the author of Utopia. More was a prolific writer and theologian. A true martyr of the Church, he was beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1886, and canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 19, 1935.
More was born in London in 1478, the son of Sir John More, a lawyer and judge. He attended Oxford where he studied Latin and Greek, as well as formal logic. He left Oxford in 1494 to train as a lawyer in London. After attaining the Bar, he spent time discerning a call to the priesthood. Though attracted to the Franciscan order More remained a lay Christian, continuing to fast, pray, and wear a hair shirt. He was married twice, the loving father of three daughters, a stepdaughter by his second marriage, and one son. More wrote many letters to his children when he was away on business and his daughters were known for their academic abilities, as they received the same education as his son, an anomaly at the time.
More rose to the Privy Council in 1514. He became the good friend and advisor to Henry VIII, and in 1521 he was knighted. In 1529 he was made Lord Chancellor of England. However, this appointment was the beginning of the end for the saint. He could not support the break with the Church in Rome when Henry failed to receive from the Pope the annulment of his first marriage to Katherine of Aragon to wed Anne Boleyn. More resigned as Lord Chancellor and continued to refuse to accept Henry as the head of the Church in England. Eventually he was imprisoned, tried, and sentenced to a traitor’s death, to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Henry commuted the sentence of his former friend to the more humane beheading. More was executed at Tower Hill, on July 6, 1535, before his death he famously proclaimed that he was “the king’s good servant, but God’s first.”
June 12, 2022 - The Most Holy Trinity
Saint Germaine Cousin | June 15
Saint Germaine was born in Pibrac, France in 1579 to poor parents. Her story is a heart wrenching one. She was born with a deformed right arm and hand, and her mother died when she was an infant. Her father remarried, but her stepmother brutally abused and neglected her.
As a child Germaine suffered from scrofula, a disfiguring form of tuberculosis which causes swelling and lesions on the side of the neck. Already sick, abused, and starving, she was forced to sleep in barn with sheep she tended.
Despite everything, Germaine lived each day tending her flock with joy and in prayer. Mary and Jesus became her friends. She shared what little she had and taught the children of the village about God’s love. A rosary made of string knots was her constant companion. She attended Mass every day, leaving her sheep in care of guardian angels. Her flock was never attacked by wolves and never wandered. Some claimed to see the waters of the flooded river part so she could get to Mass.
She is often portrayed with an apron full of flowers because one winter day her stepmother accused her of stealing bread from the house and hiding it her apron. But when she was seized and forced to open the apron an abundance of spring flowers tumbled forth. It was this incident that compelled the villagers and even her parents to recognize her holiness.
Germaine died at 22, her poor body was found by her father, in the barn where she slept. She was buried in the village church. More than forty years later, her body was accidentally exhumed and found to be incorrupt. She was canonized by Pope Pius IX in 1867 and inscribed into the canon of virgins.
June 5, 2022 - Pentecost Sunday
St. Norbert | June 6
Born to nobility, St. Norbert of Xanten, was ordained as a subdeacon and served in the court of Henry V, Emperor of Germany, however, at court it was easy to be distracted by wealth, power and luxury and he lived a worldly and corrupt life there. By the grace of God while traveling in a storm he was nearly struck by lightning and almost killed. This experience changed St. Norbert and he became penitent, left his court post, and after a period of discernment in a monastery, felt called to be a priest.
Norbert became an itinerant preacher, preaching against worldly attitudes but at the Pope’s request finally settled in northern France and founded the Norbertine order established according to the rule of St. Augustine. The order grew rapidly and soon founded women’s branch. Norbert traveled and preached across Germany where he also founded a lay branch of the Norbertines. In Belgium he preached against heresies which denied the Blessed Sacrament.
Eventually he was made Archbishop of Magdeburg, Germany, and later he traveled to Rome in support of Pope Innocent II, against the antipope. Afterward he returned to Germany to court of Emperor Lothar as advisor, at end of life, in failing health, St. Norbert was carried back to Magdeburg where he died.
May 29, 2022 - 7th Sunday of Easter
St. Joan of Arc | May 30
St. Joan of Arc (1412 – 1431) has had her story told throughout history through many books, movies and plays. She was born in the village of Domrémy, near the province of Lorraine, to a French peasant family. At a young age, she began to experience visions and voices, which were later identified to be of St. Michael, St. Catherine of Alexandria, and St. Margaret of Antioch. At the age of 13, all three saints told her that she was to drive the English from French territory, and that she must bring the Dauphin to Reims for his coronation. Trusting in God, she did as she was told.
During the Hundred Years War, St. Joan of Arc led French troops against the English and recaptured the cities of Orléans and Troyes. Captured near Compiegne the following year, she was sold to the English and placed on trial for heresy and witchcraft, eventually being found guilty and burned at the stake in Rouen.
St. Joan of Arc was canonized by Pope Benedict XV on May 16, 1920, and is the patron saint of military members.
May 22, 2022 - 6th Sunday of Easter
St. Rita of Cascia | May 22
St. Rita of Cascia (1381 – 1457) had the opportunity to live her life as a wife, mother, widow, and eventually, member of a religious community. Born in central Italy, St. Rita felt the calling to become a nun, but was pressured at a young age into marriage. During her 18-year marriage to a cruel man, she raised two sons. When her husband was killed in a brawl and her sons died, St. Rita decided to go back to her first love and attempted to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Her status as a widow caused some complications to her entering, but she eventually succeeded in professing vows.
Throughout her lifetime, St. Rita of Cascia was known for her prayerfulness and charity. She also experienced stigmata on her forehead, meditated frequently on Christ’s passion, and cared for the nuns of her religious community and those in the lay community who came to her for counsel.
May 15, 2022 - 5th Sunday of Easter
St. Margaret of Cortona | May 16
Though St. Margaret of Cortona (1247 – 1297) is today known as being an incredibly pious Catholic, she didn’t start out that way. Born into a farming family in Laviano, Tuscany, her mother died when St. Margaret was seven. Her father remarried, but life with her stepmother was so difficult that St. Margaret moved out of the home and instead chose to live with a man named Arsenio, though they weren’t married. They had been living together for nine years when she gave birth to a son. Knowing in her heart that this wasn’t the life that God intended for her to have, she prayed for purity.
One day while waiting for Arsenio, his dog led her into the forest where she found Arsenio murdered. So shocked was St. Margaret that she fell into a life of penance. She and her son returned to Laviano, but still found her stepmother to be as unwelcoming as ever. They then went to Cortona, and eventually her son became a friar.
Three years after her conversion, St. Margaret followed in her son’s footsteps and became a Franciscan tertiary. During her life, St. Margaret established a hospital and founded a congregation of tertiary sisters. She was canonized in 1728.
May 8, 2022 - 4th Sunday of Easter
St. Damien de Veuster of Moloka’I | May 10
People may be familiar with leprosy from Biblical times, but not so much in the 1800s. However, St. Damien de Veuster of Moloka’I’ (January 3, 1840 – April 15, 1889) would eventually shed a light on the effects of this devastating disease and allow people to see those afflicted with it with more compassion and love.
Born Joseph de Veuster in Tremelo, Belgium, he quit school at 13 so he could work on the family farm. Feeling called for more, however, he entered the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary six years later, where he took the name of a fourth-century physician and martyr. His brother, a priest from the same congregation, fell ill and was unable to go to his assigned location. Damien quickly volunteered in his place and found himself on the Hawaiian Islands in 1864. Two months after arriving, he was ordained a priest of Honolulu and assigned to the Island of Hawaii.
In 1873, he visited the Hawaiian government’s leper colony on the island of Moloka’I, where he petitioned to stay permanently to care for their physical, medical, and spiritual needs. After years of working to improve their location and those who lived there, he contracted Hansen’s disease and died of its complications. St. Damien was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on October 11, 2009
May 1, 2022 - 3rd Sunday of Easter
St. Rose Venerini | May 7
The story of St. Rose of Venerini (February 9, 1656 – May 7, 1728) is one of having faith in God and his calling in your life. Born in Italy in 1656, she was the daughter of a doctor. Following the death of her fiancé, she entered a convent in the hopes of becoming a nun, but soon returned home to care for her mother after the death of her father. In an effort to keep up her spiritual side, St. Rose invited women of the neighborhood to recite the rosary in her home, and together they formed a sodality.
Unsure of where her life was headed, she sought the spiritual guidance of a Jesuit priest. After much contemplation, she admitted to feeling called to be a teacher in the world, rather than a nun in a convent. Eventually, she moved ahead and opened a free school for girls in 1685. Eventually, she was invited to oversee the training of teachers and the administration of schools in the Diocese of Montefiascone, which then led to being called upon to organize schools in many parts of Italy, including Rome.
St. Rose died in Rome in 1728 amid a number of miracles that many credit to her. The group of women she first prayed with in her home eventually became known as the Venerini Sisters, found in the United States and working among Italian immigrants. St. Rose was beatified in 1952 and canonized in 2006
April 24, 2022 - 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday
St. Pedro de San José Betancur | April 25
Central America’s first saint, St. Pedro de San José Betancur (1626-1667) was born a poor shepherd in the Canary Islands. His family lands were seized because of debt, and he worked as an indentured servant until his early adult life when Pedro left his home to travel to Guatemala. His money for the journey ran out long before he arrived. He was destitute when he did arrive and was forced to join the bread line the Franciscan Friars had for the poor.
In 1655, he joined the Third Order of St Francis. Pedro began to serve the poor, the enslaved, immigrants, abandoned children, anyone that needed him. In 1658 he was given a hut which he made into a hospital for the poor. This small start grew into a shelter for the homeless, a school for the poor, an inn for priests, and several small chapels in poor areas. He was supported by many patrons and was joined in his work by both men and women, who became the Bethlehemite Brothers and the Bethlehemite Sisters.
Pedro prayed for the souls of those in purgatory, walked through the streets of rich neighborhoods ringing a bell and calling the wealthy to repent, and ministered to prisoners. Most accounts credit him with beginning the tradition of posadas, a procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph ask for lodging from their neighbors. This tradition continues today in Mexico and Central America. Because of his work with the poor and marginalized Pedro is often referred to as the “Saint Frances of the Americas”. St. Pedro was canonized on July 30, 2002, in Guatemala City, Guatemala by Pope John Paul II.
April 17, 2022 Easter Sunday
St. Anselm | April 21
St. Anselm of Canterbury left his home in Italy to travel as a young man and ended up at the monastery in Bec, France, which was known for the teachings of its leader, Lanfranc. Anselm rose quickly to become abbot of the community and his writings are now compared in importance to those of St. Augustine.
In 1093 Anselm was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury by William II Rufus, the son and successor of William the Conqueror. However, at the time there was a controversy in Europe over whether kings or the pope had the power to invest bishops. Anselm, who believed only the pope should have the right to invest an ecclesiastical authority, spent much of his time as Archbishop exiled in Rome.
St. Anselm’s teaching and works of theology are his most important contribution to the Catholic faith. He is considered of the fathers of scholastic theology and his chief achievement in philosophy was the ontological argument for the existence of God. His work Cur Deus homo? taught that atonement for sins could only be achieved through Christ. He was canonized in 1494 and named a Doctor of the Church in 1720.
April 10, 2022 - Palm Sunday
St. Bernadette Soubirous | April 16
At the age of 14 St. Bernadette (1844-1879) was living in abject poverty with her family in a one-room basement which had previously been used as a jail, in the town of Lourdes in southern France. She was a sickly child, having fallen victim to Cholera in 1854 and would battle asthma and tuberculosis for the rest of her short life. Bernadette was illiterate and is characterized in many accounts as slow or ignorant. It was in her 14th year that Bernadette was granted 18 visions of a ‘Lady’ at a grotto in Massabielle. The Lady instructed Bernadette to come daily to the grotto to receive the visions, eventually proclaiming ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’. A spring at the grotto, which appeared where Bernadette was instructed to dig, has been a site of miraculous healing. The Lady also asked that a chapel be built in the grotto for pilgrims. Today the Marian shrine at Lourdes is one of the world’s most popular.
During and following the period of visions, the saint was examined rigorously by Church and local authorities. The popular excitement around the visions left her subject to persistent questioning and attention. Eventually she sought protection by retiring to a home for the poor in a nunnery. She took her vows in 1866 with the Sisters of Charity at Nevers. She worked as an infirmary assistant, and later a sacristan, but by the end of her life she was too sick to participate in convent life. She died at the age of 35, humble and penitent until the end.
April 3, 2022 - 5th Sunday of Lent
St. Benedict the African | April 4
St. Benedict the African (1524-1589), was born in San Fratello, Sicily to Cristoforo and Diana Manasseri, Africans who had been taken as slaves. Some accounts claim that because of his parents’ loyal service that Benedict was given his freedom at birth, other sources say that his freedom was granted when he turned 18. At 21 Benedict joined a society of hermits living under the rule of St. Francis of Assisi. Eventually he succeeded his friend, Jerome Lanze, as their leader. When the Pope disbanded the independent hermit society, Benedict joined the Order of Friars Minor and he was sent to Palermo, to the Franciscan Friary of St. Mary of Jesus. There Benedict worked in the kitchens and despite being illiterate and a lay brother (not a priest), he also served as Master of Novices, and as Guardian of the Community. St. Benedict was known throughout his life as a brilliant cook under whose hands food seemed to multiply miraculously, a healer, and a spiritual leader with profound understanding. He is recognized as the patron saint of African Americans.